Volstad Act Prohibits Giants from Scoring
Anthony Rizzo crushed a tape-measure two run home run, Chris Volstad and Jay Jackson combined to throw six innings of five-hit one-run ball, and the Cubs withstood a late San Francisco rally, edging the Giants 5-4 in Cactus League action at warm & sunny Scottsdale Stadium this afternoon.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings, but the Cubs put two runs on the board against Giant LHSP Madison Bumgarner in the top of the 3rd. Starting pitcher Chris Volstad lined a lead-off single to RF, advanced to 3rd base on a David DeJesus double to the 430-foot sign in dead center (normally would have been a stand-up triple for DeJesus, except Volstad was “clogging the bases” in front of him), and then scored on a Darwin Barney ground out, with DeJesus moving up to 3rd. Starlin Castro then knocked-in DeJesus with an RBI single grounded through the 5.5 hole and into LF.
The Cubs scored another run off Bumgarner in the top of the 4th, as Steve Clevenger lined a single to right, and Josh Vitters ripped a pinch-hit opposite-field two-out RBI triple into the right-centerfield gap to score Clevenger from 1st.
Meanwhile Chris Volstad, Scott Maine, and Jay Jackson were shutting-down a mostly “A” team Giant lineup (Pagan-M. Cabrera-Sandoval-Posey-Huff-Belt-Theriot-Crawford), allowing just one run on six hits (and no walks) over the first seven innings.
Volstad and J. Jackson were particularly effective, each breezing through a three-inning stint.
Volstad threw three shutout innings (39 pitches – 25 strikes), allowing just one hit. The 6’8 right-hander had the Giant hitters beating his sinker into the ground throughout his three innings of work (7/1 GO/FO).
J. Jackson also threw three innings (37 pitches – 23 strikes, 5/3 GO/FO), surrendering a run in the 5th on an Angel Pagan two-out RBI triple (bad break on the ball and a poor route taken by CF Dave Sappelt), but he finished strong, retiring seven of the last eight men he faced. J-Jax's likely destination will be the Iowa Cubs starting rotation, but he has been very impressive so far this spring.
The Cubs added two more runs in the top of the 7th, as Adrian Cardenas ripped a two-out double into the RF corner, and scored when Anthony Rizzo clubbed a towering two-run 450+ foot HR over the Charro Party Pavilion well beyond the RF fence. (It was so obviously a homer run that none of the SF outfielders moved an inch, and the ball itself was last seen headed for Don & Charlie's for an early-bird special).
Battling for a job in the Cub bullpen, RHP Andy Sonnanstine fared poorly in the bottom of the 8th. The ex-Ray allowed three runs on five hits (including back-to-back ringing doubles leading off the inning), but one of the other hits was a nifty squeeze bunt single, and another should have been scored a FC because 3B Blake DeWitt tried to tag a runner going from 2nd to 3rd (he missed him), and then threw late to 1st base (there were two outs at the time… just throw the friggin’ ball to 1st base, Blake!).
23-year old RHP Alberto Cabrera (like Jay Jackson, also likely destined for Iowa) had a shaky 9th, but did manage to retire the side and pick-up the save (leaving the tying run stranded at 3rd).
Cubs 2012 Spring Training sensation Joe Mather got the start at 3B today, a position he has played before, although not much in recent years. Mather was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of HS as a shortstop, and was moved to 3B after his rookie season in the minors. He played 3rd base for the next three seasons in the minors after that, before being moved to corner OF and 1B.
The 29-year old Mather would obviously have a much better chance of making the 25-man roster if he shows the Cubs that he can play 3B and CF in addition to 1B-LF-RF, but wouldn’t you know it? Despite the ten Giant ground outs in the first five innings, Mather had only one ball hit to him at 3B (which he handled flawlessly, BTW) while he was in the game. (Mather was replaced by Blake DeWitt at 3B in the bottom of the 6th).
The Cubs return home to Mesa tomorrow, where they will be playing the Milwaukee Brewers at HoHoKam Park.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.
Fully agree on Addy -- hope he is our SS for a long time. I'm just surprised he has 4 errors already -- the last 2 on routine plays.
Guess how many Carlos Correa has?
I would still rather have Russell, right now, than any shortstop the team has had in many years. The future is bright enough to wear shades.
EDIT: Gonzo WOULD have been my favorite, 'cepting a certain error of a double-play ball...
Hi Phil, made it home tonight safely. Looks like Cease is getting better each outing. I see Crow did ok today too. I will be reading your write_ups everyday. Great seeing you while there!
tomorrow's game is a 12:35pm EST game for some ungodly stupid reason...then it's back to wrigley field for a night game on the 5th.
The best part of tonight's game was 6 different players with RBIs. Truly a lineup that doesn't give up top to bottom.
excubs [email protected]_NEWS
Jake Arrieta first Cub to go 6-0 in first six starts since Three Finger Brown in 1908.
Russell now with 4 errors -- that's a big (unpleasant) surprise.